Smokers who consume menthol cigarettes daily are more likely to also smoke flavored little cigars and cigarillos, also known as LCCs, according to a study led by a researcher at the School of Public Health at Georgia State University.
[Photo: Dr. Kymberle Sterling]
“Our findings provide evidence to the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] that the availability and use of menthol-flavored cigarettes threatens the public’s health by increasing the risk of dual use with flavored LCCs among cigarette smokers,” the study stated. It also stated that increased dual use of both kinds of tobacco products may widen health disparities by elevating rates of tobacco-caused death and disease among African-Americans and Latinos.
The results of the study are published in Tobacco Control in the article “Association between menthol-flavoured cigarette smoking and flavoured little cigar and cigarillo use among African-American, Hispanic, and white young and middle-aged adult smokers.” The study’s lead author is Dr. Kymberle Sterling, associate professor of health promotion and behavior at Georgia State.
Menthol-flavored cigarettes are the only flavored cigarettes not banned under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act in 2009. And while the FDA in May 2016 extended its regulatory authority to all cigars and cigarillos, it didn’t ban added flavors in these products.
Researchers noted that flavor additives, such as menthol, mask the bitter taste and harshness of tobacco and may increase its appeal among young people. They also noted that dual use is associated with smokers’ positive perception of menthol-flavored additives in tobacco.
“The availability of menthol-flavored cigarettes and flavored cigars may contribute to the growing popularity of these products among young people, particularly black/African-Americans and Hispanic/Latinos who, compared with whites, are at increased risk for use,” the study stated.
“Our findings indicate that a product standard that prohibits all characterizing flavours — including menthol — would curtail tobacco use and protect the public’s health.”
The study’s authors also included Ms. Dina Jones, a PhD student in epidemiology at Georgia State’s School of Public Health; Dr. Craig Fryer with the University of Maryland; Dr. Ian Pagano with the University of Hawaii; and Dr. Pebbles Fagan with the University of Arkansas for Medical Services.